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Calistoga Wine Tasting Passport 2012-13

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Calistoga Wine Tasting Passport 2012-13

My husband and I are traveling to Napa Valley for 3 days in mid-December and, while we enjoy wine and wine tastings very much, we're far from being oenophiles. We'd love to go to some tastings that are informative (we're interested in learning about the wine making process) and in lovely surroundings.

The Calistoga Wine Tasting Passport looks like a great deal, but besides Castello di Amarosa (which I had on our list already since it looks like a rather unique setting), I don't know how to choose between the other wineries. If it's nice weather we'd love to picnic, but I don't think we can count on that in Dec. I would really appreciate peoples' opinions/experiences/advice about the other participating wineries:

Sterling Vineyards

Bennett Lane Winery

Chateau Montelena

August Briggs

Zahtila Vineyards

Lava Vine, LLC

Madrigal Vineyards

Rios Wine Company

Summers Estate Wines

Tedeschi Family Winery

Twomey Cellars

W.H. Smith Wines & Wine Sensory Experience (a good choice for learning about wines and wine tastings?)

Vermeil Wines

Vincent Arroyo

Thanks very much!

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1. Re: Calistoga Wine Tasting Passport 2012-13

They are all good. Tedeschi is very small, about 800 cases, and gives such a quaint tour of how wine is made. Really worth a visit.

Lava Vine- the guys in the Tasting Room are all winemakers- and fun to talk to.

Sterling has some amazing views.

W.H Smith - sensory is such a fun way to learn about wine.

Chateau Montelena was the producer of that famous Chardonnay that won the Paris blind tasting in the 70's.

Briggs, Rios, Smith, Vermiel are all tasting rooms in the heart of town. They may be open later than the wineries.

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2. Re: Calistoga Wine Tasting Passport 2012-13

It depends on what you want and how interested you are in wine. I did the passport earlier this week.

Sterling: I have not been there in a while, but to me this stop is more about the experience and the views than the wine. We were going to visit, but changed our mind at the last minute.

Bennett Lane: I went there the other day for the first time. I am not a chardonnay guy, so no comment about that. The Maximus blend is nice and we tasted two cabs back-to-back which was great.

Ch. Montelena: Just went for my first visit. Great for the historical contribution to Napa/California wines. The very expensive reserve cab was great (but very expensive). Otherwise - eh.

August Briggs: Nice experience. Interesting wines. They pour a Carneros pinot (though I like Russian River). and a Napa zin (though I like Dry Creek). The Monte Rosso cab is a winner. Better Charbono than Summers.

Zahtila: Two zins, two cabs, and a port. Nice wines and Laura Zahtila may be pouring for you.

Lava Vine: A nice red blend, a nice cabernet, and a nice port-style wine. The reserve cab is not worth the money based on how good the regular cab is, in my opinion. Also - chickens on the property and a chocolatey treat with the port.

Madrigal: Possibly my favorite tasting ever, and I have been to a LOT of wineries. Coco and another guy (sorry for forgetting his name) in the tasting room were GREAT to us, poured us almost everything, and made us feel like friends (this may be because we spend a LOT of time in the area and have a lot more local experience than most visitors). We talked and tasted for almost an hour and a half. Also, Chris Madrigal ducked in to say hello. Loved the Tempranillo. I joined the wine club, unexpectedly.

Rios: Tasting room pourer went home sick. Did not taste.

Summers: Fun tasting. Loved the reserve cabernet. The "famous" charbono was not my thing. You can see the Old Faithful geyser from the tasting room.

Tedeschi: i don't know why they participate. They are VERY small. Only a few wines to taste. The merlot was nice. The cabs were OK. Oh, and they have a peacock.

Twomey: Nice stop. They were out of one of the normal wines, so they featured a 2004 merlot instead which is also on sale. Good deal.

W.H.Smith: I did not try the sensory stuff, so no comment. The winemaker's daughter does the tasting and she is nice. The wines were just OK in my opinion.

Vermeil: The woman in the tasting room did not seem to like pouring for more than one group at a time, but the wines were excellent and if you know your wine you may get more pours than advertised.

Vincent Arroyo: My favorite producer in Calistoga over the last 8 years or so. A smaller, family place, but if you like petite sirah, you MUST go here. The other wines are good, but the PS is where Vince excels. They had the Rattlesnake Acres PS open the other day - exceptional. The cab and PS port are good also.

Napa, CA
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3. Re: Calistoga Wine Tasting Passport 2012-13

Great report! Thanks, Paul

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4. Re: Calistoga Wine Tasting Passport 2012-13

We will be staying in the Napa Valley Sept 8-11. Are passports available and if so for which wineries?

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5. Re: Calistoga Wine Tasting Passport 2012-13

Mmm. TA didn't accept that password. I changed it

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6. Re: Calistoga Wine Tasting Passport 2012-13

Thanks! We will have to get to Madrigal, sounds really nice. :)

Newberg, Oregon
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7. Re: Calistoga Wine Tasting Passport 2012-13

Sterling, as noted, offers exceptional views and the tram ride to their "mountain-top" site is unique. Wines are still OK butnnot a match for some of the great bottles they produced 20 to 40 years ago. The best wines on your list are at Chateau Montelena and Twomey. The cabs at CM are among Napa Valley's best! Twomey is the merlot specialist of the great cab producer Silver Oak family. IMHO, only Duckhorn makes tastier merlots. Twomey also make very nice pinot noir from Russian River Valley grapes. Enjoy!

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8. Re: Calistoga Wine Tasting Passport 2012-13

The OP visited last fall. This is an old thread.

Cookie - please start a new one for your question.

Edited: 21 July 2013, 02:55
9. Re: Calistoga Wine Tasting Passport 2012-13

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